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HOUSEKEEPERS' CHAT Wednesday, March 30, 1938 

(FOR BROADCAST USE ONLY) 

Subject: "FOOD-SHOPPERS' HEWS." Information from the Bureau of Agricultural 
Economics, United States Department of Agriculture, and the Consumers' Counsel, 
Agricultural Adjustment Administration. 

— 00O00 — 

News for the spring food-shopper today "begins with asparagus and 
strawberries. 

Early in March the first carlot shipment of California asparagus reached 
the city markets. California produces about a fifth of the yearly supplies 
of this vegetable and most of the early crop. This year the number of Cali- 
fornia acres planted to asparagus is slightly larger than last year. April is 
usually the month when California asparagus comes on the market in largest 
quantities and is lowest in price. But asparagus season runs through July and 
the lowest prices in cities near late-producing areas come in May or June. 
White asparagus is milder in flavor than green asparagus. They cut white 
asparagus when the growing spear first breaks through the ground but the green 
kind they cut after the stalk is about 6 or '[ inches above ground. 

As you probably know, asparagus will not lie around and wait patiently. 
It ages rapidly after cutting. So make sure the asparagus you buy is fresh. 
You can tell whether stalks are fresh and tender by seeing whether they are 
brittle and have close compact tips. 

Now about strawberries. Louisiana strawberries are coming on the market 
these days and in a few days volume shipments will be coming to market from 
Louisiana. About a fifth of the strawberries sold in the market each year 
comes from the early -producing States. The crop from Louisiana is more than 
half of the early total. Most of the early crop ripens in March and April. 
This year it will probably be about a sixth larger than last year. Growers 
in Louisiana plan this year to ship only those berries good enough to have 
a grade of U. S. No. 1. Production estimates for States shipping in May and 
June are not ready yet but it looks as if we would have more berries than last 
year because more acres are planted to them. The seasonal low point in straw- 
berry prices usually comes in May. 

Now about meat supplies and prices. Retail meat prices appear to be 
at — or close to — their low point for the first half of 1 38. As you know, 
meat prices generally have dropped about 20 percent since last fall, have 
returned to the price-levels of late ' and early '35« During the 6 months 
ending in mid-February, prices of beefsteaks and fresh pork tumbled lU cents 
a pound, about double the drop in smoked pork products and beef roasts, and 
almost 3 times the drop in lamb. 



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3/30/38 



Fresh pork prices probably will go up slightly in April and then go 
down slightly. For lamb a larger price upswing is in prospect. Lamb prices 
generally are highest from May to July when supplies are seasonally small and 
when mostly spring lames are on the market. Beef prices may go still lower, 
"but any drop will he small prohahly compared with the large drop since 
October last. 

Late April is the time when the first spring lambs of the 193$ crop 
will probably reach the markets. These early lambs are fattened mainly on 
mother's milk and are slaughtered when they are anywhere from 3 to 5 months 
old. The crop of spring lambs this year will be about a sixth larger than 
last year's small crop, and those sold up to the first of July will probably 
be larger than a year ago and better in quality. Right now most lamb on the 
market is grain-fed meat. Supplies of it will continue to be larger than at 
this time last spring. 

From now until the last of September the number of hogs slaughtered 
will probably be larger than a year ago. Most of the increase will come after 
April. Right now is the season when fev/er hogs are slaughtered. This will 
probably be the case this year until fall pigs start to market in late April 
or early May. 

What about butter and eggs? The predictions are for more butter and 
prices continuing at their present level. Because of favorable weather and 
cheap feed, more milk was prodiiced during February. March first marked a 
high point in milk production at that date since 1933* The wholesale price 
of butter with a score of 92 in New York has remained at 30 an d a half cents 
a pound since the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation began buying butter 
for relief distribution in mid-February. Butter prices usually go down during 
the first half of the year and hit bottom in June. 

Egg prices appear to be at or close to their low point for the year. 
In spite of a record low in the number of layers in farm flocks, more eggs 
have been laid than were laid a year ago. The hens have simply been heavy 
producers this year. Egg prices usually reach their seasonal low point in 
April but this year the sharp drops in prices have brought the low point 
earlier . 

Orange and apple prices probably will continue lower than a year ago 
and will not go up as much as they usually do during the first half of the 
year. Apple supplies at this time of year come from storage. Cold storage 
apple holdings on March the first were the largest on record for this date 
and almost two-thirds as large as last year. As for oranges, we also have 
many more of them than we had last year at this time. In mid-February orange 
prices hit a new record low. They were selling in the retail stores at 2k 
cents a dozen — about half as much as their price last August. As you 
probably know, oranges on hand at this season are either California Navels 
or Florida oranges.